17 July 2021
3:00- 4:00 pm
The facilitator, Mr. Al-Qasem Abdulhameed Abduljabbar- the founder of Yalla Network Institution opened the fourth session of Point Conference- Iraq 3.0 that was held on The Station Project building, on Saturday, 17th July, 2021, by welcoming and introducing the speakers and inviting them to go on the stage.
The facilitator started the session with a question directed to Mr. Hussein Mahmoud, an activist, a protester and a member in the interim secretariat of Al-Bait Al-Watani, about the public opinion that prevails in the Iraqi street and the indication of opinions in terms of participation or boycott in the elections that are intended to be held in next October. He answered that: "I'm with the reluctance to participate in the next elections for many reasons, and this is my personal opinion", adding that: "many people think that the boycott decision came after an emotional upsurge or an instant decision taken following the assassination of Ehab Al-Wazni, one of the peaceful protests leaders, yet it is very far away from this issue. Although the assassination of Ehab Al-Wazni has been a watershed that made all of us, as a community, lose the confidence in the government whose duty is setting impartial elections with equal competition between the powers that emerged after the protests". He indicated that: "previously, all of us intended to participate in the elections, thus we made a feasibility study prepared by efficient cadres from our teams. Moreover, we made interviews with government officials and a number of members of the Commission departments, besides that the representatives of the international missions will supervise the monitoring of the elections, yet we did not get enough responses, in addition to the assassinations that happened to the activists, and the deportation of other activists who are likely to be our nominees in the next elections. All of these reasons push us toward boycott".
Regarding the issue of participation and boycott of elections, (Mahmoud) said: "we are the sons and supporters of democracy, and we see that the peaceful transition of power is the only option. We could go to participate in the electoral process but under conditions. Yet, we cannot participate in an electoral process that is characterized with injustice of participation between the candidates and the parties, does not ensure the efficient security to both, the voters and candidates and is dependent, as I single out the Independent Higher Electoral Commission, since we see that the Commission became included within quota".
He pointed out to the: "existence of confidence crisis between the citizen and the political process", referring to an incident happened in 2018, of a representative obtained a resolution from the Higher Federal Court authenticated his membership in the Parliament, but he has been prevented from entering the Parliament so far.
Hussein Mahmoud answered a comment of one of the participants: "boycott allows a number of political bodies to forge the elections, since those who have the right to participate do not use their right, thus the average of fraud increases".
He said: "in case the elections were controlled through the biometric card, surely there will be no fraud. This skepticism affirms that the elections are unfair", adding that: "fraud exists within the willingness of the voter, which is a great mistake, as there is a political will to forge, starting from using the political money and the general jobs to encourage and allow it".
Regarding the future tools of boycott, he said: "we do not want to go through a boycott project by Al-Bait Al-Watani only; we are seeking to gather all the projects that have emerged after October revolution, in addition to the previous ones that haven't been involved in killing the Iraqi people and corruption. We are going to look for an overarching frame for those who see that the boycott is a pressure force for providing a better environment during the next level and pushing the political process toward paving the way for us to be acceptable popularly when we participate, nominate and elect, and not being dead cards as what happened to a lot of independent political characters and movements. While other characters' opinion outside Al-Bait Al-Watani was to participate in the elections, as they decided to keep on working on one project through which they can strengthen the opposition inside the Parliament, while we are moving forward from outside the ParliamentThrough the multiplicity of the tools, we are seeking to reach an organized, peaceful, practical protesting leadership that focuses on the objectives until being achieved".
Regarding the non-participation of the protesters in the next elections, Hussein Al-Gharabi, the Secretary General of Al-Bait Al-Watani, said: "the pace of protests will not stop, since the same causes which lead to October protests are still on-going and are worsening, while all the attempts to reformation did not work".
Al-Gharabi revealed that: "Al-Bait Al-Watani is currently heading toward political opposition while preparation is being carried out. We aspire that it will be an actual project that resembles the shadow government outside the Parliament, transfers the power constantly, focuses on the continuity of the protest process and aims at attracting all the figures that are politically effective, although we are firmly convinced that the elections under these circumstances and the participation in the political process are useless, as it will contribute to the extension of the age of a political process that is almost finished. I'm inviting all the powers of October revolution to reconsider their resolution regarding elections, and not to intersect with us regarding this opinion. As a result, each one of us has a point of view that has to be respected. We are not talking about the overarching frame between the participants and the boycotters. We set the target and it's very likely that the tools are multiple, but we are very careful to make all the bodies reconsider their resolution of participation in the elections".
Al-Gharabi said: "if I was a candidate, I wouldn't come back home which could be bombed, safely. Tens of our colleagues are forcibly kidnapped and hidden, and hundreds of them are now martyrs. We are unable to go home to share our electoral programs and the awareness about elections too. There are parties that control Iraq. Using non-state political Islam parties threaten and kill us. Thus, we have to compete with those parties during this period, which is impossible and illogical".
He assured that: "elections boycott resolution is a political protest. In case the security conditions of elections improves, it is possible to discuss the resolution of participation and non-participation in the elections, as the electoral security issues are simple and require a political will to end the great insecurity state.
Al-Gharabi concluded his speech: "our peacefulness is our only weapon. We are offering an alternative for the political participation which is the political opposition. The political opposition will present an economic political alternative and oppose quota that we want to substitute with citizenry, which is an internationally successful system".
Dalsouz Shafeeq- the Chairman of Dabin Organization for Democracy and Human Rights- expressed her happiness for participating in Point Conference and thanked the organizers of the Conference and the honored attendees. Regarding the participation in the elections, she said that: "it is one of the rights of Iraqi people, according to the international human rights charters and standards and the Iraqi constitutions. Participation will cause an effect more than non-participation. Since 2003, Iraq has been going through several changes, thus, today the citizens have the right to live with dignity and freedom, as the participation will be under the aim of decreasing the percentage of the political and administrative corruption".
She considered: "the main reason for boycotting the elections is the lack of hope and confidence in the political bodies of Iraqi people, while we need more time and hope for making change. It's one of the organizations and individuals duties to work on changing through taking bold actions to participate in the elections under the condition of setting fair elections under international and civil society organizations supervision, since they contribute in setting fair elections".
Concluding her speech, she said: "we need constant progress and to overcome the obstacles to achieve a successful political process in Iraq, while we admit the existence of those obstacles".